Doctor’s legacy lives on at Methodist Hospital - May 19, 2017

Courtesy of The Times of Northwest Indiana • May 19, 2017

By LU ANN FRANKLIN, Times Correspondent

Sydney Choslovsky, M.D., devoted his life to making a difference in the lives of others. His legacy of expanding the radiology department at the Methodist Hospitals in Gary and Merrillville starting in the 1960s still resonates, according to staff and the physicians he mentored.

Choslovsky died in January. He was born in Winnipeg, Canada, Choslovsky graduated from medical school in the Canadian province of Manitoba in 1955. Two years later he enrolled in the radiology residency program at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago.

After completing his residency in radiology, Choslovsky was recruited in 1962 to join the Gary Methodist Hospital staff and served at the Gary and Merrillville campuses for almost 35 years, growing the department to include a staff of 15 radiologists.

“He was the driving force behind the MRI Center at Methodist,” said Tulsi Sawlani, M.D., a board certified diagnostic radiologist and currently chief of radiology at Methodist Hospitals.

A group of physicians purchased the first MRI in the area, even before the University of Chicago had that equipment. In fact, the U of C sent patients to the Methodist for MRIs for a short period of time.

“Dr. Choslovsky wanted the MRI for outpatients,” Sawlani said. “We put together about 50 doctors for an imaging center. He didn’t become a partner, but he helped with the administration to get this done.”

When the federal government passed the Stark Law in 1990, the hospital purchased the MRI Center from the physicians, said Evelyn Morrison, hospital spokeswoman. That law prohibited physicians from referring Medicare or Medicaid patients to a designated health service, including an MRI Center, in which they had a financial relationship.

“That was during the time period that John H. Betjemann Jr. was president and CEO of Methodist Hospitals from 1980 through 2003,” Morrison said.

Sawlani said Choslovsky mentored him.

“He was very, very fair,” Sawlani said. “When I came for the job (in the radiology department), he was the first one I met. He introduced me to the Southlake hospital. After 10 to 15 minutes, he said the job was mine.”

At that time, Choslovsky was co-chairman of the hospital’s radiology department at both campuses.

“He was dear to me,” Sawlani said. “He trusted me. What I am today, I owe to him. He taught me to be who I am. I don’t know how to pay that back.”

Cardiologist Vijay Dave, M.D., also credits Choslovsky with mentoring and encouraging him.

“I came in October 1974, and Dr. Choslovsky was co-chair of the radiology department. I came first to the Emergency Department at Northlake,” he said.

Choslovsky was “the most patient mentor and guide to me,” Dave said. “I could order a chest X-ray. I would call him and discuss the X-ray findings.”

In addition to discussing what an X-ray showed, Choslovsky also taught him the clinical aspects of reading an X-ray.

“He was very good at teaching,” Dave said.

When he completed his cardiology training at Rush in Chicago, Dave said he began practicing at Methodist Hospitals where Choslovsky again encouraged him.

“I would meet with him and other cardiologists in the lunchroom. We’d talk about medical and political issues and social issues. He guided me how to survive in medical practice,” Dave recalled.

“I’ve been in the Cardiology Department at Methodist Hospitals for 40 years,” he said. “Whatever I am, part of it goes to Dr. Choslovsky, to his support.”

When Choslovsky’s wife, Binnie, needed a cardiologist, they called Dave.

“They had already moved to Chicago,” Dave said. “He trusted me. He was an astute man. He was one of the greatest human beings, without any bias.”